President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has stated that he received a letter from Youth Minister Ahmed Mahloof expressing his concerns over the investigation against him in connection to the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations (MMPRC) money laundering scandal – and that the President is looking into the matter through Foreign Ministry.
He had said this while speaking at a press conference held yesterday at the President’s Office.
President Solih further detailed that Mahloof’s main concern was regarding the statement from a state witness, a Sri Lankan national, was extracted illegally - pointing fingers at the Maldivian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka
President Solih also added that he would look into the matter – and inform his opinion including any concerns regarding how the investigation had been carried out to the asset recovery commission.
“Mahloof has sent a letter to me regarding the case. He has raised a lot of concerns over the investigation. I am looking into how the events transpired through the Foreign Ministry. Afterwards, I will inform my view, including any concerns regarding how the investigation had been carried out to the asset recovery commission,” he had said.
President Solih further added that the best solution for this case is for Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO) to conclude their investigations and subsequently either close the case and send it to court – adding that he believes any decision made by PGO will be just and fair.
Mahloof has also previously shared his concerns over the investigation to the public, alleging that PGO is handling his case differently than other MMPRC cases – adding that even though Prosecutor General Hussain Shameem told the press it takes his office an average of six days to file charges, his case has been with the PGO for over 60 days.
He also stated that the committee within PGO involved in the prosecution of MMPRC cases has repeatedly stated that he cannot be charged in the case, and efforts are being made to hand over the prosecution to another party.
Mahloof also said that it is evidence of the involvement of a group of politicians in the case and that he refuses to play into their hands by voluntarily resign from his post.
He also stated that there are issues with how the authorities obtained evidence in the case, alleging that the statement from a state witness, a Sri Lankan national, was extracted illegally.
Mahloof said that according to Maldivian law, when it comes to taking statements from foreign nationals, the PGO is first required to inform the Maldivian Foreign Ministry, which, in turn, is required to discuss the issue with the Foreign Ministry of the respective country.
Mahloof said that in his case, the Maldivian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka called the Sri Lankan national in question, and was also present during the Zoom session to take his statement.
He said it begs the question of influence.
Anti-Corruption Commission requested the PGO for charges against Mahloof in connection to the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) case on June 9.
ACC said their investigation found that in 2014, then-parliamentarian Mahloof received USD 33,000 in funds stolen from MMPRC as a bribe from then-Vice President Ahmed Adeeb Abdul Gafoor to remain a member of Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and vote for the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Bill.
ACC said Mahloof arrived at the Parliament on August 27, 2014, after traveling from Malaysia, for the sole purpose of voting for the SEZ Bill.
However, Mahloof rejected the allegation, stating that he voted in accordance with the three-line whip issued by PPM.
ACC found a USD 33,000 cheque was deposited to Mahloof’s bank account by SOF Private Limited – the company accused of laundering the stolen funds.
ACC said that though Mahloof submitted a ‘Payment Received’ slip in the name of SOF as evidence it had been a legitimate business transaction to procure US dollars, the commission had witnesses and other evidence as proof it had not been a legitimate business transaction.
However, Mahloof said the PGO does not have any evidence to make the charges stick in court.